Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sparky! The Portrait

This little guy was the light of his family's life.  I think Sparky's name was pretty fitting :).  
Of course losing him this past year was very difficult.  I was honored to be asked to paint this portrait in his memory.   Sparky's portrait is a 5 x 7" watercolor.

Buffalo Chicken Dip ~ Yum!

I am clearly not following the idea of letting 'food be thy medicine' with the last two posts and I promise I will change that in the new year!     This buffalo chicken dip is a favorite of anyone who eats it, including me.   Thankfully I don't make it that often.    This recipe is so simple.     I'll have to update this post with a photo next time I make it, in my hurry I forgot to take one!

1-block of cream cheese (I use light).
1-jar of Marie's blue cheese dressing (also can use light, found in produce section)
1-small jar of Frank's hot sauce
Chicken (I use one roaster chicken, pull the meat.   You can use canned chicken but I don't think its as good).
Shredded cheddar to garnish- optional

I use either my Blendtec or food processor and toss the cream cheese, jar of dressing and most of the hot sauce in and combine.    I add the rest of the hot sauce a little at a time - this is a personal choice for hot-ness.  Pull the meat off the roaster chicken (easiest if still got, I throw it in the microwave for a minute or two if needed).   Mix the chicken in by hand.    Some people use cheddar on top, I don't think it really adds to it.     Microwave until warm (depending on the microwave anywhere from 3-8 minutes).
Serve with solid tortilla chips.   Flimsy chips with break!

A note on the size..  we have a large family so when I brought this to Christmas eve, I made a double batch.  There was only a few bites left!


Sweet Party Chex Mix

Merry Christmas!  
Well, I'm a little late with that wish so let's say "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" instead.    This holiday season proved to be another whirlwind.  I always get really busy with paintings as people want them for Christmas gifts.     This year I was looking for something new and easy for Christmas eve with my family, that could be dessert-ish (I reserve the right to make up my own words in this blog).     My friend Christina has been raving about what she calls Christmas Crack for  few weeks so I tried it.  You can find her recipe here.    I feel a little guilty even sharing this because its SO bad for you - and sorry to my GF friends this does not qualify.   (although, you could nix the golden grahams, use GF pretzels...hmmm...we could make it work!)

1 box Golden Graham cereal
1 box of Rice Chex
1 bag of pretzels (broken)
peanuts or whatever nut you like
1 bag of peanut m&ms (choose the color per the season!)
1 bag of sweetened coconut
2 cups of corn syrup
2 cups of sugar
3 sticks of butter

Start by mixing all dry ingredients.   This makes a large batch and I needed to use 3 bowls, and just add a third of each item to each bowl- I would otherwise not be able to mix it all.    Remember to break up pretzels a bit, I forgot regardless of that suggestion and I think they'd take the gooey mix better when broken.    

Pre-heat your oven to 250. Cook your corn syrup, butter and sugar in a large saucepan for about 10-15 minutes.   If you have a candy thermometer, it should reach 234.  I do not and just let it slow boil for that amount of time, while constantly stirring, and it was fine.     Pour the liquid over your dry ingredients and mix.  I consider this the not-fun part but I can be a lazy baker.   

Here's the important part- don't forget to spray your pan with PAM!   I did and it was not pretty.   For some reason only after I filled a pan did I think to use parchment paper  as an alternative (I had run out of pam).   Parchment paper also works and helps clean up efforts later.    Bake for one hour, this sets the sugary mix.  You can then let it cool most of the way, and break into pieces.